Refusing to face the final events of book 4, in the low point of his journey as hero, Jessie escapes to Texas. On a break from his mission to find God and make him pay, Jessie becomes the sheriff of the small town of Salvation, taking on the corporation that buys off the police, pollutes the rivers, and whose KKK employees terrorize the town.

Ennis pushes the final confrontation with God out just beyond reach again, but in the meantime, he uses the low point in Jesse’s life to remind the reader of his original modus operandi — a take-no-shit modern cowboy that dishes out justice in satisfying violence. Except that Jesse now also fights for the weak alongside Deputy Cindy Daggett, who shines in new role because Jesse gives respect to both women and minorities.

This return to a simple story re-energizes my faith in Jesse, his character, and his mission. In addition to more scenes about Jesse’s mother and father (flashbacks to Vietnam), the backstory of Tulip and her single dad is surprisingly feminist, reinforcing Jesse’s mission of protecting the outsiders and punishing the cruel and powerful.

Once Salvation is safe and sound, Jesse renews his quest for God, takes some hallucinogens, and reunites with Tulip. With the dark moment behind them, the set-up for the final battle is complete, and I am very excited to see what atonement both our protagonists and God must eventually pay.